An amazing thing happens when I cut distractions from my life. I write books.
A long time ago, I used to be a Twitter junkie. I couldn’t go two minutes without checking my newsfeed. Somehow, I found someone tweeting about their latest experiment with Mentos and coke fascinating. My DM feed was worse. It became a hodgepodge of ads from folks who wanted me to check out their offers for the latest diet fad, the most affordable bank loan or the cure for the ebola virus.
Facebook had me scrolling through reams of baby photos, birthday greetings, wedding announcements, graduation congratulations, college tuition woes, car crash images, death notices—you name it, I was there. And what would a newsfeed be like without the required charity pitch? California didn’t seem dry last summer when folks were pouring buckets of ice water over their heads.
It doesn’t end on the social networks either. Visiting a news site required me to install ad-blocking software on my browser to prevent me from clicking on related articles dealing with cooking, time management, of all things, and anything else you can imagine as taking an extra few minutes of my day in a senseless pursuit of useless facts.
Add the hours I had spent surfing online “researching” favorite dog toys or best practices in lawn manicures—you had yourself a dull Jack.
Humor aside, it didn’t take long for me to change once I realized I had fallen into a spiral of mediocrity. At the time, I wasn’t writing nor was I thinking about anything that I was doing. I was going with the flow. Surfing. Not ruffling feathers. And any other cliché you’d like to stick in there to illustrate being trapped in the throes of everyday life.
Once I tallied the amount of time I was actually spending with the distractions, I had no choice other than to confront my time-wasting ways.
What happened? I changed. Just like that.
How? Simple. Imagine taking a vacation every week and that vacation turns into quality time with family, friends, and to pursuits that you’ve always put aside because you felt you’ve never had the time to enjoy them.
Now, imagine if you will, actually acting on that idea.
That idea is about taking one day and dedicating it to none other than yourself. Scary, huh? Pretty terrifying, don’t you think? Guess what? It is scary. It is terrifying. How can one do that with the bills to pay, the kids to shuttle back and forth, the meals to prepare, the laundry to wash, and the shopping to bring home? How? Theoretically, it’s impossible.
And you know what? It is impossible.
But once I had decided I needed a change, to cut the distractions, and live a more productive life away from the online world, all of a sudden I had time to do anything. Those little slivers in between tasks where I would have sneaked a tweet, read a Facebook entry or pressed a like button had disappeared, replaced by a meal with the family, a trip to my kids’ recital or simply a talk with someone I love.
That one day in the week I’m now disappearing from the online world has become the day I look forward to the most.
By the way, don’t forget today and tomorrow are the last days to pick up your FREE copy of my first book Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse from Amazon. It’s my gift to everyone who has stuck with me for the past three years, putting up with my banter while I lost my mind writing the conclusion to the Ranger Martin trilogy due out October 20.
What about you? Do you dedicate a day away from the online world? Are you thinking about if?
18 thoughts on “Distractions”
This is so true. Thank you for the inspiring words 🙂
A day without connecting? That sounds horrifying… and refreshing. I might just have to try it. But not today. Next week, maybe…
I keep toying with the idea that I want to leave facebook. It’s the only place I have an online presence, besides my blog…but it’s also the only place I keep in touch with certain people anymore. And I don’t know that they could be bothered to keep in touch with me on a different platform because they also are busy with stuff that doesn’t really matter. Not speaking with them anymore is a risk I haven’t persuaded myself to take yet.
The best thing I ever did for myself was to stop going after the people who wouldn’t turn around if I stopped ‘following’ them — virtually or in reality. The peace that comes from only having people in your life who will give you as much as you give them is soul-lifting!
That is a fair way to look at it. And I keep telling myself as much, but still just not done it…
Change is difficult, but it can be done. Good luck.
Tuesday is my volunteer day. I might check emails for half an hour in the morning and then I’m done: gardening all day at a nearby historic house. Thursday is the day I might go out and do nothing digital. (If any WordPress posts appear on these days thank the scheduler, not me.)
Email, WordPress and increasingly Goodreads are my social media call-ins, which means in a twitterfacebookinstagramwhatever-free world, I don’t spend too much time being annoyed by photos of other people’s pets.
Social media can be the absolute worst time waster. As I am learning to manage my time better, I’m realizing that spending time “surfing the web” only steals valuable time from other things I could be doing. Like writing. Mainly writing.
I’d rather connect with people in the real world. The internet is great and has its place, but it is no substitute for carefully cultivated relationships. People are valuable and the best thing we can give one another is our time.
Can’t wait to read the next Ranger book!
Keep up the good work with your writing. It will definitely pay off in the long run. And nothing really replaces a good relationship with real people we can see and touch!
Jack, Jack, Jack. I just started reading “Ranger Martin and the Zombie…” Ok, see I don’t like zombies. I am not intrigued by them, more repulsed. Until I started your book. Bloody Hell! I am intrigued! The characters are full and multi-layered. The action is powerful and often unexpected and the conversations are witty and real. Don’t you dare tell anyone but I think I am converting!
Pam, this is one of the kindest thing anyone has said about my work. Thanks so much!
Sometimes I just ignore the lure of the Internet as much as possible & concentrate on something different for an hour or 2. It’s easy when I’m out of town or at someone else’s house, of course.
It’s good to just ” detox ” & focus on life in the real world. Of course, unless you’re Amish / Mennonite, it’s hard to get away from the siren song of electronic media. I find most television ( 90 – 95 % ) to be just ” white noise ” / static, or else, between the Internet & TV, I’d just stay cloistered in my apartment 24 / 7, until someone entered my apartment & found a semi – desiccated bag of bones slumped over my keyboard or in front of my TV. 🙂
Being out of town forces me to reevaluate my surfing habits as well. I tend to play a lot of games and watch movies during those down moments. It’s a great way to maintain a balance lifestyle away from it all!
Great post, first you had me chuckling and then you made some serious points.
By the way that last thing ” I roll elastic bands into a ball. It´s a hobby. Is not weird.” That´s a good one. Good thing of me, is that I´m still a caveman of sorts. I have discovered this blogging world about 3 years now, that lead me to twitter, which I have an account but I get in there maybe every 2 weeks if that much. Don´t have a facebook account, nor a cell phone that has internet. Let alone a tablet or whatever other technological devices there are out there. I don´t even have wassap on my cell phone, I find it annoying when I´m with people and their staring at their hand if I´m talking or they might be talking and suddenly stop for a second to read a wassap and then wassap the other person. I actually think it´s an addiction this social media thing.
And the wassap, for me it would be a pain in the ass. I like to sit and write, and read, watch a movie, a documentary, all by myself with no interruptions. And wassup would be an interruption, plus people send me messages and they still can´t figure out why I don´t respond them imediately. Well, I´m doing other things. Don´t want the distraction of another person telling me he met this person or that person and heard this or that or whatever on is going in their life´s. Tell me one day that we meet in person and that should be enough. Or give me a phone call every once in a while but don´t send me a freaking message telling me how well your job interview went for example, you could wait for the day that we decide to meet in person and have a drink or two and discuss our life´s, I don´t really need to hear it at the exact moment.
Just my take. And I don´t even have to care about a wife or kids. How people are so involved in social media for such a long time during their day while they have in my opinion quite more hard things to deal with, escapes me. Or maybe their escape from their day to day reality is social media. Or social media is their reality, could be.
I know that a lot of my day is leaking away in small increments that I waste on the internet, but I have never been so proactive as to purposefully set aside a day to be distraction free. What if someone needs me? What if I miss out on the next super cute cat video?
You make a very good point that’s worth emulating. Thanks! I will follow your example…right after I check Facebook one last time!
Jack, I read your post and think. Humm, I don’t have this kind of day. I agree this would be terrifying to see how I could carve this time into my current schedule. But what would I sacrifice to do just that?
You got me. Thinking. Thinking. Thinking.
Lol! Well I will just have to see where it goes!
Thanks Jack, great post!
Sometimes, all that’s needed is to turn off the internet! 😉